Harford Community College Hosts Conference for Early Childhood Professionals

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L to R: Harford Community College Teacher Education faculty Kimberly Bell, Brigid Cook, and Laura Hutton coordinated and hosted a Building the Foundation for Success Post-Pandemic conference in conjunction with community partners.

Harford Community College recently hosted a full-day conference, Building the Foundation for Success Post-Pandemic, for more than 90 early childhood professionals from across the state. Keynote speaker Dr. Felicia Jones, Prenatal to Three Project Director for the Maryland Family Network, presented “Supporting Our Earliest Learners.” The conference included several workshops and breakout sessions on important topics childcare providers are facing post-pandemic.

Associate Professor Laura Hutton, along with Assistant Professors Kim Bell and Brigid Cook, all from Harford’s Teacher Education department, coordinated and hosted this event in conjunction with community partners Abilities Network, Maryland Excels, and the Maryland State Department of Education.

Bell spoke on “The Power of Play to Help Kids Bounce Back,” identifying the skills and behaviors children need to engage in positive play with their peers. Participants examined the benefits of play and explored best practices for facilitating play.

Cook discussed “Parents & Families: A Child’s First and Most Important Teacher,” which addressed the importance of partnering with parents and families and its correlation to the social and emotional development of young children. Attendees left with an action plan to help build on their current strategies to establish a parent communication system that effectively supports parents and families as a child’s first and most important teacher.

Hutton was one of four presenters for the “Transcending Trauma” session. The presenters postulated that, with the challenges created by the pandemic, many have been under additional stress. For some of the children they serve, this stress rose to the level of trauma. The session described how trauma impacts children’s development and learning, and provided tips to foster children’s resilience and support the development of effective coping skills. Stories from “in the trenches” were shared by current childcare providers.

Associate Professors Manolya Bayar and Regina Roof-Ray from Harford’s Psychology department led a conference session called “Social-Emotional Development is Child’s Play,” that examined play through a theoretical lens, focusing on relationships and attachment. The interactive session considered both promoting and interpreting social-emotional development through play, with a special focus on sensory integration and art.

This large event showcased Harford and all it has to offer, including the College’s new noncredit Child Care program and new Child Care Apprenticeship program that start in January 2023. This is the first childcare apprenticeship in the State of Maryland. Additional information can be found here.

Conference attendees came from across the state. While many were from Harford County, participants from Burtonsville, Gaithersburg, Cockeysville, Hyattsville, Owings Mills, Glen Burnie, and Sykesville also attended.

For information on next year’s conference, planned for November 2023, contact Associate Professor of Teacher Education Laura Hutton at 443.412.2093 or [email protected].

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